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joemirando
08-07-2013, 02:40 PM
Okay, here's the kind of question that everyone hates. I know it, but I figured I'd put it out there anyway.

I've been given a pound of honey from an in-law who got it from a friend who has a farm and bees. He gave it to me just because he'll never use it. He WILL however, drink something with alcohol, so I figured....

Anyway, this honey is filtered, but not ultra-filtered. There is a distinct grittiness about it. It is very very pale, with a very light green cast to it. It is also a bit cloudy. The aroma is almost nonexistent. What there IS is just a very light hint of something somewhat sweet, but no hint of what you expect from any kind of honey. The taste is exceedingly mild. It is so mild, in fact, that it is hard to recognize it as honey until the after-taste. There is also a very very slight hint of what could be peppermint if it lasted longer on the tongue. But there's just the briefest hint of it then it's gone.

Due to the color and the incredible mildness, my first thought was alfalfa (don't ask me why), but it does not smell of hay or anything.

My in-law had no idea what kind of pollen it might have come from, but when I asked if it could be alfalfa, he said that he DID know that the guy grows both alfalfa and hay. What ELSE he grows, he didn't know.

Here's a picture of the 1 lb jar next to three pounds of store brand clover honey for comparison:

http://www.citizenswithoutwarrants.org/light_honey.jpg

So with the sketchy info I've got, has anyone any idea of what it MIGHT possibly be?

Also, as you have probably guessed, I want to use it in a must and make this exceedingly small batch and give it to my in-law. I know its a very small amount, but the honey is so exceedingly mild that any other honey I add is going to overpower and swamp it.

I'm thinking of making a 1/3 gallon mix (or whatever it takes to give me an OG of 1.100) in a small bottle (leaving enough for backsweetening later).

Any suggestions? Thoughts? Anecdotes?

fatbloke
08-07-2013, 05:41 PM
Yeah, make a gallon using non-descript store bought crap, use ec1118 and ferment it dry.

Then once done stabilise and then back sweeten with this mystery varietal.

The main thrust of flavour etc should be reminiscent 9f the mystery stuff.....

joemirando
08-07-2013, 06:48 PM
Yeah, make a gallon using non-descript store bought crap, use ec1118 and ferment it dry.

Then once done stabilise and then back sweeten with this mystery varietal.

The main thrust of flavour etc should be reminiscent 9f the mystery stuff.....
Thanks fatbloke. This stuff is SO mild that I didnt know if even fermenting some generic honey bone dry then backsweetening would let the taste come thru. That's why I considered the small batch. I'll cast around and see if I can find EC-1118.


Thanks again,

Joe

PitBull
08-08-2013, 09:38 AM
Any suggestions? Thoughts? Anecdotes?
Clover and alfalfa work well together. I made a 6 gallon batch of dry mead (at 12% ABV) from fresh alfalfa/clover honey purchased from a local apiary. Of course, I have no idea what what percentage of the bees gathered from alfalfa vs. clover. I'm guessing since the alfalfa was given first billing, it was predominant.

I split the mead into four batches: plain, with acid blend, with tannin, and with oak (at 0.25 oz./gallon). The one with tannin had the best taste/mouthfeel early, but the one with the acid blend was equally as good after some aging. The plain was a bit flabby, but also improved with age. The oaked mead seemed a tad over-oaked, perhaps since the honey was relatively light.

If you back-sweeten, you may not need any additives. But you can always add them later.

joemirando
08-08-2013, 10:40 AM
Clover and alfalfa work well together. I made a 6 gallon batch of dry mead (at 12% ABV) from fresh alfalfa/clover honey purchased from a local apiary. Of course, I have no idea what what percentage of the bees gathered from alfalfa vs. clover. I'm guessing since the alfalfa was given first billing, it was predominant.

I split the mead into four batches: plain, with acid blend, with tannin, and with oak (at 0.25 oz./gallon). The one with tannin had the best taste/mouthfeel early, but the one with the acid blend was equally as good after some aging. The plain was a bit flabby, but also improved with age. The oaked mead seemed a tad over-oaked, perhaps since the honey was relatively light.

If you back-sweeten, you may not need any additives. But you can always add them later.

Thanks PitBull. My plan at the moment is to ferment some store-brand clover honey dry, stabilize and backsweeten with this mystery honey.

Still haven't decided on my ABV, but I'm leaning toward not taking whichever yeast I can find (hopefully 1118 or Premier Cuvée) to its limit.

I'm not positive of what kind of honey this is, but I'm not sure that it HAS any characteristics to come thru the alcohol. <grin>


Thanks,

Joe

jkane
08-08-2013, 11:29 AM
Alfalfa is very mild. It has hints of grass in the mead at the finish, but not much. I won a silver last year at the mazer cup with a traditional alfalfa mead.

Put the honey in a gallon jug, add 3 more of the same size container of water. Use a good dry wine yeast and a couple pinches of nutrient. Ferment it out and see if you like it. If not, blend with another mead. Or add some juice of your favorite flavor to it.

joemirando
08-08-2013, 11:45 AM
Alfalfa is very mild. It has hints of grass in the mead at the finish, but not much. I won a silver last year at the mazer cup with a traditional alfalfa mead.

Cool! Congrats on the medal! I'm a long way from winning anything, just trying to make something drinkable, for the most part.


Put the honey in a gallon jug, add 3 more of the same size container of water. Use a good dry wine yeast and a couple pinches of nutrient. Ferment it out and see if you like it. If not, blend with another mead. Or add some juice of your favorite flavor to it.

From what I described, could this be alfalfa? I really have no idea why I thought it was alfalfa, but it fits as well as anything else I can come up with. <grin>

Right now my plan is to ferment some store-brand honey bone dry with a yeast that will blow any properties of the original honey out the airlock, and then backsweeten with some of this. This has the benefit of giving me extra to play with down the road so I can experiment, but I'm torn between that and making it straight from the ground up with only this mystery honey for the sake of 'purity'. Decisions, decisions. <grin>


Thanks for the advice,

Joe

joemirando
08-08-2013, 01:09 PM
Yeah, make a gallon using non-descript store bought crap, use ec1118 and ferment it dry.

Then once done stabilise and then back sweeten with this mystery varietal.

The main thrust of flavour etc should be reminiscent 9f the mystery stuff.....

Would you recommend going for a relatively high ABV, or to stay with something in the 14% range? If I go for the max, can I avoid the nasty fusils if i sneak up on it by step-feeding the honey and nutrients?

I know ABV is largely a personal choice, but if I can get the high ABV without needing to wait two years for it to become drinkable...


Thanks,

Joe

Swordnut
08-08-2013, 05:18 PM
Very interesting read this thread. Could a lighter taste honey be used as a base to add other flavors like spices and fruits? As in, these flavors would then play a much more prominent role in the final product.

joemirando
08-08-2013, 05:59 PM
Very interesting read this thread. Could a lighter taste honey be used as a base to add other flavors like spices and fruits? As in, these flavors would then play a much more prominent role in the final product.

Swordnut,

I think the answer is "yes", but wait for the word of someone more experienced than myself. The store-brand clover honey I buy has more taste than this 'mystery honey', and by using a yeast that will, as fatbloke has told me, "blow a lot of the aroma and taste of the honey right out of the airlock ", even this 'stronger' honey could be a 'neutral base', I think.

I am planning on using store-brand clover honey as my base, using a strong yeast such as EC-1118 (thank you, fatbloke) or Premier Curvee, which both boast an alcohol tolerance of 18%, and are strong, fast fermenters that will remove most of the character of the honey. I will then stabilize it and backsweeten with this magical mystery honey and see what happens.


-Joe

jkane
08-09-2013, 11:57 AM
Technicically it is wildflower. That means you don't know what the floral source was. ;)

Depending on where you are from, alfalfa is hay. Either way, it's a flowering grass.

Personally, if the honey didn't have much character, I would use it as the base and ferment it. Why add it as a sweetener when it's just sugar flavored and not much honey?

Maybe split it and do both? Really small fermented batch, like one bottle. And then another bottle of something else sweetened with this? There is no reason you can't use a single bottle as a fermenter!

mannye
08-09-2013, 12:21 PM
I've never made less than a gallon of anything. I guess it really shouldn't make a difference, but i've always had this idea that a smaller volume would be more volatile, kind of like a 1 gallon fish tank vs a 100 gallon where the 100 is a lot easier to keep stable.

The idea of having several nano batches going at once is very appealing however.

joemirando
08-09-2013, 01:54 PM
Technicically it is wildflower. That means you don't know what the floral source was. ;)

Depending on where you are from, alfalfa is hay. Either way, it's a flowering grass.

Personally, if the honey didn't have much character, I would use it as the base and ferment it. Why add it as a sweetener when it's just sugar flavored and not much honey?

Maybe split it and do both? Really small fermented batch, like one bottle. And then another bottle of something else sweetened with this? There is no reason you can't use a single bottle as a fermenter!

The idea here is to 'present' the honey I was given in the most prevalent way possible. I'm basically giving back the gift in a 'value added' way. ;)

Microbatches present more problems than they solve for me right now, since I'm short on space, equipment, funds and patience. ;)

As a side-thought, does anyone know what happens if you ferment refined white sugar (say SG of 1.100 to start) and let it go dry? Of course, nutrients would be required, and it'd probably be a good idea to boil the sugar up with an acid to invert it, but would it give you a finished product with no or almost no taste? I'm wondering if adding some of the honey toward the end of the ferment would add character, with a little more added after stabilizing for sweetness.

Has anyone done this? Is it worth it?


Thanks,

Joe

Chevette Girl
08-10-2013, 02:50 PM
Yeah, I used to make "blank" wine all the time to keep on hand for topping up. Juice of one lemon, one teabag brewed in a cup of water till cold, handful of raisins, 2 lb of sugar and a gallon of water. Very little taste of its own but enough acid, tannin and body to blend well with anything.

Probably what I'd do with a small amount of very mild honey I wanted to showcase is either brew it in a 2-litre pop bottle or start something with boring storebought honey and a harsh yeast like Fatbloke suggested, maybe even boil the store honey too, and then step-feed a few times with the mild stuff. That way you get some of its character fermented, and some of it not fermented, and if it looks like you'd run out before the yeast stops, save enough to back sweeten, let it finish, stabilize and backsweeten.

Or you could start with a blank wine base, but you might find it lacking to start with a tasteless base, at least with clover honey you've got something to start with.

And no, I wouldn't use this with fruit, I've already got enough melomels where I say, "and why did I waste money using honey on this when sugar's so much cheaper and I can't taste the honey in the finished product?" to know that it's not a good use for a mild honey if you're trying to showcase the honey.

markspend1
09-06-2013, 10:20 AM
Hey Guys me Mark.Well last week i purchased some Alfalfa Honey.It is much better.It’s mild and for some reason i think it choices less lovely than most other honeys. It is now my preferred kind of honey.Thanks!!

joemirando
10-22-2013, 11:51 PM
Creds to Shelley for cluing me in on what kind of honey this probably is.... BASSWOOD!

Thank you, Shelley. I'd never even heard of Basswood, and would probably never have come across otherwise.

Joe